Brick Haley Interview

In an exclusive interview, Chicago Bears assistant football coach Brick Haley, a former Mississippi State assistant football coach, talks with Gene's Page about the differences between the National Football League and the college game.

What is the biggest difference between the college game and the pro game as far as the players are concerned?
"I think the difference is the players' attitudes as far as going into practice and ballgames. They try to be more of a pro because it is their job now. We talk about it being a job, but for those guys that's exactly what it is. And anything you can do to help them, they more than welcome it because they know it is going to prolong their career."

What is the difference between coaching on the pro level compared to the college level?
"I think the biggest thing is learning the players themselves. They are no different than here in what makes them play hard, how to hold their attention. Things like that. Again, those guys are professionals, so they don't think you have to tell them a whole lot. But there are things you can help them with to fine-tune them. And that makes all the difference in the world."

Is there not as much teaching going on on the pro level as there is on the college level?
"There is the same amount of teaching, but some things are a little more complicated because you get a little more in-depth in the schemes. But for the most part, it's really no different. It's basically learning personalities and understanding people and trying to put those guys in the best position to be as successful as they can."

Compared to college, how much time can you spend with your players in the pros?
"It's the same. They pretty much have a four-hour rule in the off-season. But those guys like to spend a lot more time around the facility because that is their job. They don't have any classes and things college athletes have. So, they can just work until they feel like they have gotten it right."

Is there more pressure on the players and coaches in the pros?
"Right now, with the way college is and the way sports are in general, there is a lot of pressure everywhere. I don't think there is any more or any less. To me, it's about the same. The biggest thing is those guys have to produce on Sunday just like these guys have to produce on Saturday. So, the bottom line is you apply all the pressure to yourself."

What have been the toughest adjustments for you?
"The biggest adjustment for me right now is having to be away from my family. But another adjustment has been just learning the guys. And I think you handle things a lot differently than you would in college because these guys are older, they are grown men, they have families. No recruiting is probably one of the biggest adjustments because I probably miss the recruiting part more than anything else. I like to get out and spend time with people because I'm a peoples' person."

I would think that not having to recruit gives you the chance to do exactly what you want to do and that is coaching the game of football?
"Oh yeah, it does. It gives you more time for football. It's football, football, football, which is good because you don't have to worry about who went to class, etc."

What has been the most exciting thing for you personally as a pro coach?
"Watching the guys work as professionals. And seeing them come to work everyday and seeing how important it is to them. You don't have to feel like you are pulling teeth because they want to be the best."

In the college game you don't have to cut players, but you do in the pro game. Has that been tough on you?
"Sure, that is tough. Because you get involved with the guys. You see a guy work and progress and get kind of comfortable with them. But it's only a 53-man roster and sooner or later you know some of those guys sitting in that room aren't going to be in there when it's all said and done. It's all business, so you can't get caught up with who you like or don't like. It's about business and it's about numbers."

Even though it's more of a business in the pros, is it still as enjoyable as the college game?
"Oh yeah, it's as much fun as coaching college football. There's just not all the recruiting and other things that go along with that. You don't have to make the phone calls or write any letters. Those guys are going to be right there doing what they have to do everyday."

Are the hours you work each day longer or the same?
"For practical purposes, they are pretty much the same. It's like any place, it depends on who is in charge and how long they want to stay. But you know going in you are going to have X number of hours as a coach, so you had better prepare yourself for that. You've been through it year in, year out."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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